Abnormally high rates of conjunctivitis have been reported in Martinique. According to health officials, some 250 new cases are currently being detected on a weekly basis across the French overseas department (DOM). Various other Caribbean islands are also reporting outbreaks, notably the Dominican Republic where a major epidemic is ongoing.
Conjunctivitis is an eye infection where the thin membrane that covers the white of the eye and the interior of the eye lids - the conjunctiva - becomes inflamed. Symptoms include watery eyes and discharge, discomfort, and itchiness. Conjunctivitis is highly contagious and can be caused by bacterial or viral infections; the bacterial version is treatable with antibiotics.
Individuals in affected areas are advised to minimize contact with others (e.g. avoid handshakes) and to wash hands frequently.